* All about breads

I have been asked to share my vast wisdom on the subject of yeast breads (chometz).

I’m not a big fan of lots of different recipes for bread. My philosophy is to find one basic recipe and then do variations on it: experiment with different ratios; stir in a cup of raisins or nuts or grated cheese; make rolls, using cinnamon, sugar and butter, or jelly, or peanut butter and jelly; use milk or evaporated milk or even fruit juice or cream instead of water; and so on.

I’ve forgotten the basic recipe I used before becoming homeless. One could start with this one, and experiment with different ratios until one settles on one one likes.

BASIC RECIPE

½ cup butter, melted but not hot
1 cup warm water
¼ cup sugar
1 large egg
1 package commercial yeast
flour: I don’t know how much. Have at least four cups available.

This is destined to produce a small loaf. You can increase amounts later.

Put all the ingredients but flour in a bowl and mix well. Begin stirring in flour, a little at a time, until the dough is firm enough to knead. (Note: There is not, and never will be, an exact amount of flour to use, as the right amount on any given day will depend on the humidity in the room, etc.)

Dust a cutting board or tabletop with flour; turn the dough out onto this, and knead. Sprinkle flour on the wet or sticky spots as needed. Kneading is done when the dough has become springy and elastic.

Put the dough into a greased bowl. Coat the surface with vegetable oil to keep it from drying out. Cover with a cloth, and put in a warm place to rise.

When it has doubled (about two hours), punch it down. At this point, you’ll form it into any special shapes you want, or make the jelly roll, etc. Put it in or on a greased baking pan, cover with cloth, and put up to rise for another two hours.

Bake at 325⁰ for as long as necessary, which will depend on the size and shape of what you’ve made. It’s done when it sounds hollow if you tap on it.

STRATEGIES

Using store-bought yeast, one can start a batch at noon and take it hot from the oven at supper; in which case the whole will probably be consumed that night.

Clean all surfaces and tools a.s.a.p. after use. Once the traces of dough begin to harden, they’re much harder to clean.

Be forewarned: you WILL “waste” flour; it’s inevitable. You WILL make a mess; it’s inevitable. Determine from the get-go to regard cleanup as fun rather than as a chore.

SOURDOUGH

The biggest difference between sourdough and other bread is that sourdough takes much longer to rise. If I start a batch this morning, I will anticipate baking it tomorrow night.

To make sourdough starter: half fill a small jar with flour, and stir water in until it becomes a paste. Cover loosely and put in a warm place, like the kitchen window. After 2-3 days the wild yeasts already in the flour will have become active, and it will be bublly. Now it’s ready to use.

You can keep it in the cupboard, loosely covered, indefinitely and it won’t go bad. Every day, discard 1 tbsp. of what you’ve got — our use that much to start a batch of bread — and stir in as much new flour to replace it. Thus you’ll keep the sourdough starter fresh and active.

How much water to use is up to you. The thicker the starter is, the less sour your bread will be; the thinner, the more sour.

SPIRITUAL CONSIDERATIONS

(1)  All activities associated with breadmaking provide an ideal occasion for presence or mindfulness meditation: one focuses one’s attention wholly on the activity at hand, giving oneself completely to the experience.

(2)  It’s a good time to maintain an attitude of gratitude.  Give thanks to God for providing the materials.  Thank God for, and pray for, the farmers who produced it.  Thank yeast (or “Yeast”) and wheat (“Wheat”), who have been staunch friends to our species for thousands of years.  Pray that your taxes, tithes and activities may so create shalom as to make bread more accessible to the hungry. Praise God that you can so pray.

(3) Love for “the least of these.” I’ve always made it my business to actually love the yeast. These tiny fun guys (fungis) are actually right to stand tall and take pride in themselves. No less than the Blues Brothers, they are “on a mission from God,” to destroy complex starches and create simple sugars (cf. Jeremiah 1:10); to consume those sugars and produce ethanol (:)) and carbon dioxide.

(4) The Parable of the Yeast —

Matthew 13:33: He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and [hid in] three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.”

— illustrates what happens when one begins to establish presence. A little harmony and peace facilitates greater harmony and peace, and one’s motivations become increasingly coherent, until one’s whole being is transformed.

Why shouldn’t I dream about these things?

Previous pertinent posts:
Jesus’ outrageous parables
What a homeless man dreams of

on air talent, radio talk show, talk show host, the homeless blogger

* “Chaos Overwhelms the Poor”

Yahoo! Voices has released my latest piece:

Chaos Overwhelms the Poor
10/18/2013
“Personal failings” and “an environment that is not conducive to success” so interact that many poor folk come into a state of self-generated, self-perpetuating crisis.  Personal failings can be outgrown, however, and untoward circumstances transcended.

For the moment, this is my definitive expression on the subject.

on air talent, radio talk show, talk show host, the homeless blogger

* “Alice in Wonderland” had a Tea Party, too.

I’m angry. I don’t usually talk this way. But for better or worse, for the moment, I will.

I don’t know the numbers, and I’d welcome if someone would tell me. I also don’t understand how the numbers work here, and I’d also welcome if someone would tell me.

How is it that the Tea Party has not just hamstrung the Republican Party, but also the House as a whole?

Let’s say the President proposed that “tomorrow” be defined as “the day after today.”  Let’s also suppose there are 100 Tea Partiers in the House; of 235 Republicans; and that the remaining 200 House members are, you know, Them.

Obviously, the 100 Tea Partiers will oppose the President here, just as they do as to anything else.  But how can the remaining 135 Republicans, along with the 200 Them, fail to pass such a thing?

Call it kairotic, call it synchronicity, call it whatever.  I am working on the “substantial response” mentioned here, specifically just now on a passage about how the emotionally needy, the infantile, those who stomp their feet and throw tantrums like two-year olds, lack the wherewithal to learn problem-solving skills, being intransigent and unwilling and unable to compromise or negotiate.  I’m speaking there of what may be called the “underclass,” but the equal pertinence to the Tea Party leaves me speechless.

* Sneak peek

Thanks to the reader who sent me this link:

Poor people aren’t stupid; bad decisions are from being overwhelmed, study finds

I am preparing a substantial response and should have it ready to publish a few weeks from now.  In the meantime, I thought others might be interested in the original article.

Critique of Theosophy

On 07/12/13 I was shocked to find out that Light recommends a long list of Alice Bailey’s works.  I have looked askance at her ever since an article in Venture Inward years ago practically credited her with inventing the concept of “New Age.”

In the next several days, I read extensively at Wikipedia and elsewhere about Bailey and about Theosophy.  Theosophy is a movement founded by Helena P. Blavatsky (“HPB,” “Mme. Blavatsky”).  Bailey was involved with Theosophy for about five years, during which time she quickly attained high offices.

The following may not be completely accurate, but is the best I could adduce from the various articles I read.  This was not my first encounter with Theosophy.
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Opening the present

Several weeks ago, I came into a new frame of mind, in which numerous profound insights have come, and I have seen doors open in my prayer life and elsewhere.  In particular, even though I frankly regard myself as spiritually advanced, one door has opened to a course offering far deeper spiritual growth that may make it possible for me to be happy practically all the time.  I copy pertinent diary entries here below, with commentary.

On reflection, I see that these diary entries assume the reader is well familiar with (1) “silence” and “presence,” which are technical terms referring to specific spiritual practices, and (2) those practices’ effects, especially the ability to choose and change one’s emotional feelings at will.  Accordingly, in the near future I will need to post explanations of meditation, contemplation, awakening the will, and how essential these are for anyone who would follow Jesus.

Until then, one would do well to consult three of Ambrose Worrall’s essays in the Library: “Essay on Prayer,” “Meditation and Contemplation,” and “Silentium Altum (Deep Silence).”

This may not be the best presentation.  But to have these thoughts available for later use, I need to record them now.  My frame of mind is sure to change, at which time, without this record, I am sure to forget these concepts indefinitely.

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Question for “Light”

Below appears a question I intend to submit to “Light.”  It provides a snapshot of this moment in my evolving cosmology.  “Light” may or may not answer.  I invite responses from you who read this blog.

Please critique the following POV.  Please be patient; it’s long.

For some time, I have been pondering God as the All.  If this is so, then God’s own being must comprehend (include) Darkness and evil as well as goodness and Light (Isaiah 45:7).

I understand from Ambrose Worrall that an energy that may be called the life force, or qi, permeates the universe.  In the past I have supposed this to be Light.  Now I question that.
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